Evergreen businesses look to mitigate detour impacts

Evergreen business owners share ideas, concerns over Evergreen Lake North Trail update

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Downtown Evergreen business owners hope they can find creative ways to mitigate road detours while the Evergreen Lake North Trail is rebuilt next year.

They acknowledge that the new two-tiered trail will be great once it is built, but they are worried that tourists won’t come to Evergreen because of four months of detours and gridlock. Currently, the plan is to have detours in place from June through September, though it is possible that construction could be stalled, starting in September instead.

Dean Dalvit, owner of EV Studio, told fellow business owners they could sit and grumble, or they could come up with ideas to help mitigate the negative effects.

“I appreciate the design team for thinking how the detour will benefit downtown,” Dalvit told about 15 business owners at a meeting with Evergreen Park & Recreation District officials on Nov. 18. “Now it is up to the community to say how do we mitigate the impacts, regardless of which four months the work is done. We need to focus on what we can do.”

They suggested that shuttles could run tourists from parking lots into downtown Evergreen. In addition, they asked that detours take pedestrians into account.

EPRD has about $4.1 million in funding from the Denver Regional Council of Governments, Colorado the Beautiful and local groups to construct the trail along Evergreen Parkway from the dam to what is known as the fishermen’s parking lot. Deadlines are looming to begin construction or EPRD could lose the grants.

“The other important thing to the (EPRD) board and to me personally and the community is we don’t want to not construct this,” said Chris Vogelsang, EPRD’s consultant on the project. “There is a scenario where we run out of time. If we don’t get through this process and get it constructed … all these grantors will lose faith in us.”

As the business owners try to find compromises, they hope to convince the EPRD board at its Dec. 7 meeting to delay requesting bids four months, so construction would start in September rather than in June to save the summer tourist season. However, they noted that a detour in the fall would negatively impact school traffic.

Vogelsang said the delay might inflate the construction price, something the rec district can’t afford.

Business owners are especially concerned that detours through Evergreen two summers in a row will decimate their businesses. In addition to the lake trail project, Jefferson County is planning to make improvements to Highway 73 from Buffalo Park Road to Plettner Lane starting in spring 2023.

Vogelsang explained that the trail-construction detour would bring traffic traveling into downtown on Evergreen Parkway, while traffic moving northbound would be routed from Highway 73 through downtown and up Meadow Drive to get to Evergreen Parkway. Vogelsang said people would be stationed at the traffic light in downtown Evergreen and at the east end of downtown to keep traffic moving during peak periods.

Vogelsang said traffic studies show that the diverted traffic would move at an acceptable rate.

Some business owners said a positive is that the detour would bring some vehicles through downtown that wouldn’t normally drive there.

Two other concerns were mentioned during the meeting:

One participant asked whether there would be a contingency written into the contract in case there were a wildfire, so the road could be opened. Having a major evacuation route blocked during an emergency would exacerbate a difficult evacuation issue.

Another participant asked whether some consideration could be given to the elk who have their babies in early June on the island across from the Lakepoint Center, suggesting that if construction started closer to downtown, that would help the elk.

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